Roberto Firmino is finally starting to get the recognition he deserves not just as a tireless and talented attacker but as a scorer. As recently as last summer, there were widespread questions about Jürgen Klopp appearing to have no interest in signing another striker. Nobody’s wondering about that any more.
His 11 goals stand him sixth best in the league, and with the FA Cup and Champions League added in he has 19 in total to show for 2017-18. Add in his ten assists and that tireless approach and you’ve got both a high-quality striker and a player who is integral to how Klopp wants Liverpool to play football.
“Firmino has been a revelation this season,” noted ex-Red and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football Extra this week as he looked to address the importance of Firmino to this Liverpool side. “I actually think he is one of the most underrated players in the Premier League.”
He is, just maybe, a little less underrated in 2018 than he was at the same stage of 2017, and a big part of that is down to the goals. But it’s also down to the arrival of Mohamed Salah. His role, and the 21 league goals—and 28 in all competitions—he’s scored, require playing off a false nine type striker.
Without Firmino vacating key spaces, dragging defenders out of position, and creating lanes for Salah to run into, the Egyptian superstar wouldn’t have anything like his current return. Though if Firmino wasn’t one of the league’s top scorers himself, perhaps for some it would make it easier to overlook that.
“He has always been Liverpool’s number one striker but what he has been adding is the goals,” Carragher said. “He can actually match up to the other strikers now goals-wise and still bring all the other stuff he brings. Without a doubt, Firmino is helping Salah, too. It’s a great combination for Liverpool.
“He comes towards the ball and opens up the space for Salah to make that penetrating diagonal run in behind. That’s why, even without the goals, I don’t think Klopp would ever look to replace Firmino. Klopp appreciates all of the extra things that Firmino brings to this Liverpool team that nobody else can.”